Meatballs and Lasagna.


First, the recipe.  Then, the story.  ‘Cause the other way around is a thing that everyone hates now.

Lasagna & Meatballs

Lasagna & Meatballs

I don’t measure much.  I had stuff from Aldi, Shop ‘n Save, & Giant  Eagle by the time I was done.  The kids helped.  They have been into helping to cook lately.  We like meatballs on the side, not meat sauce in the lasagna.  Get out of here with your sausage or pork or pepperoni too, this is BEEF territory.

We eventually decided on…

Ingredients:

  • A box of no-bake lasagna noodles from Aldi.
  • A 2½ lb. package of ground beef from Aldi.
  • Fresh spinach from Shop ‘n Save.
  • Fresh parsley from Giant Eagle (could’t order it from Aldi or Shop ‘n Save via Instacart.)
  • A tiny tub of Ricotta from Aldi.  (Instacart size fail.)
  • A giant tub of Ricotta from Giant Eagle.
  • 2 Aldi zucchini.
  • A 2-cup bag of “Italian Blend” cheese from Aldi.
  • A 1½ cup bag of shredded parmesan & romano cheese from Giant Eagle.
  • A 1½ cup bag of shredded mozarella cheese from Gaint Eagle.
  • 2 eggs
  • “Shake cheese” – Used both Parmesan & a Parmesan Romano blend.
  • A bag of “Italian Seasoning” croutons from Aldi.
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing.
  • 3 jars of the cheap Aldi marinara sauce.  (It is way better than the supposedly more delicious and expensive ones.)
  • Condensed Tomato Soup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Various spices no, I didn’t measure:
    • “Italian Seasoning” {Whatever that is.)
    • Dried spice-rack Parsely
    • Garlic Powder
    • Onion Powder
    • White Pepper
    • Coarse Ground Black Pepper
    • Sea Salt
    • Whatever Aldi “Seasoned Salt” that looks like the Lawry’s Seasoned Salt bottle or McCormick Season All is.

🌡️ Cook temp:  400° F

⏱ Prep time:  This isn’t Food Network, All Recipes, or Martha Stewart & Snoop Dogg.  How do I know?  I had a 6 year old and a 4 year old helping.  So, it was slow.

⏲ Cook time: 20 to 25 min. for the meatballs.  (Cook to a temperature, not a time.  The USDA says ground beef needs to be 160° F so you don’t die or something.  Get a food thermometer.)  45 min. covered in foil for the lasagna, 15 min. uncovered.

Method:

  1. Get out all your pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, and stuff before you cook.  If you have children helping, get paper towels.  Get the ingredients out.  Wash your hands.  Wash the eggs.  We used 2 large mixing bowls, and an inordinate amount of oddly shaped glass baking dishes.
  2. Chop the parsley & spinach like a madman (or mad woman, or mad person of a non-specific gender).  Have the kids help.  They love sharp knives.  It’s important that they respect them and that you watch closely.  Very closely.  We sometimes use one of those still sharp plastic lettuce knives for stuff like this.  I didn’t measure.  We used about the whole bunch of parsley & a handful and a half of spinach.
  3. Slice up that zucchini as thinly as possible.  I don’t have a mandolin, so I did that instead of the kids.  Actually, I would still do that if we had a mandolin.
  4. We divided the parsley & spinach about equally into the 2 mixing bowls.  I talked about that thing where you add the same flavors across different dishes to tie them together, but I have no idea what the word for that is.
  5. In the meatball bowl, we tossed in the ground beef & the croutons.  We smashed the croutons first.  Oh, that was fun.  It probably got out of hand, but the bag didn’t pop.
  6. We also poured in some Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing in the meatballs.  Amount?  Yes.  Until it looked good.  This is one thing I won’t bend on.  It is far more superior that any other Italian dressing.
  7. The we dropped in some Italian Blend shredded cheese & some shake cheese.  Measuring is for the timid.  Eyeball it.  Use the force, let it guide you.
  8. Mix it with your hands, roll into balls, and pop in into a glass baking dish, or 3 odd little ones.  We spaced them out.  I mean, you could use a baking sheet, and I used to prefer them in the electric skillet, but this is so easy.  We put all of the above spices in there too.  And sprinkled a bit on the outside once formed.
  9. We washed out hands again, and I set that in the oven & set the timer for 23 minutes because I couldn’t decide between 20 or 25.
  10. We poured the marinara & tomato soup in a pot, added some brown sugar (just a bit), shake cheese, parsley & italian seasnonings, & garlic.
  11. The kids stirred that.  And stirred that.  And stirred that.
  12. We put the ricotta in the 2nd mixing bowl already containing spinach & parsley.
  13. Add eggs, the rest of the “Italian Blend” cheese bag, some shake cheese, and some minced garlic… and whatever spices you want.  I told the kids here about depth of flavor in using the dried parsley vs. the fresh parsley and minced garlic vs the garlic powder… but I don’t know if they were paying attention.  They had just cracked eggs and we were about to mess with a giant gooey bowl of cheese.
  14. Go easy on that white pepper if you have it.  It goes a loooong way.
  15. Spread the sauce on the bottom of your biggest glass baking dish.
  16. We layed out the no-boil noodles.  It was my first time using them.  I think it went pretty well.  They fit 4 across and 1 at the end in our pan.
  17. On top of the noodles we did half of the ricotta mixture, the Parmesan/Romano shredded cheese, the zucchini, sauce, more noodles, the rest of the ricotta mixture, the shredded Mozzarella cheese, sauce, noodles, more sauce, and a mix of the Parmesan/Romano & Mozzarella cheeses.
  18. We like cheese.  The kids tasted the different shred varieties as we layered.  Ian liked the Parmesan/Romano & Molly liked the Mozzarella.
  19. I covered that in foil & put it in the oven for 45 minutes.  Then I uncovered it & let it go for 15 minutes.
  20. The extra sauce goes on the meatballs.

Ooh.  I snuck the story in on you didn’t I?  Wow.  Would you like to speak to the manager?  You might like my other blogs about meatballs or meatloaf or wedding soup… or any of my food stuff.  The kids went absolutely primate-poop over the meatballs.  The no-boil noodles were fine.  I liked that they were al dente.  There was enough liquid that I didn’t add any like the box suggested.  Be a rebel!  (OK, I asked for opinions on FB for that first on my page & in an Aldi recipe group.)

View this post on Instagram

Definitely firmed up after sitting more. #lasagna

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

Oh yeah, completely unrelated, I made these this morning too:

Found the recipe here via Google: https://tasty.co/recipe/potato-flower-breakfast-cups

 

Do(ugh)nut Despot Docility


Well, Krispy Kreme wrote back.  No doubt they believe that I’m absolutely undeniably insane at this point, but they thankfully decided to humor me anyway.  Here’s what I sent them…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 15, 2012
Subject: Re: Case #1099627
To: krispykreme@casupport.com

Aloha Lyndon,

Thank you for your swift reply!  Hopefully Krispy Kreme is able to rebound to the Pittsburgh area, and stay a little longer this time.  It’s curious that you blamed the franchisees for wanting to get into other business ventures, yet I read an article on CFO.com from 2005, detailing corporate buybacks.  I’m not sure, but was that around the time when Krispy Kreme left the area?

I have used the store locator at KrispyKreme.com to determine that the Krispy Kreme closest to me is all the way down in Washington County.  This is too far away from me to take a chance on making a run hoping to get hot fresh donuts.

I’d like to resubmit my earlier message, with unanswered questions highlighted, and perhaps I’ll add some more that have cropped up after that.  I hope that you (or someone at Krispy Kreme) has the time someday to come up with some responses.

Greetings Doughnut Despots,

I’m writing to ask you what happened.  Occasionally I get an email reminding me to visit a Krispy Kreme, and I think to myself “yeah, that’s a good idea.”  Sadly, there are no Krispy Kremes around any more.  I remember the stir of excitement when you first came to the area many years ago.  I believe it was even a news story… “Pittsburgh is getting Krispy Kreme!”  The fervor for hot fresh donuts was palpable.  The neon sign beckoning me in for a visit worked on several occasions when I wasn’t even craving donuts.  I’d generally come in to buy a Boston cream donut & an iced tea or chocolate milk… all because of that glowing invitation.  I always loved the retro decor, the smell, and the ability to see the magical doughnut making process.  You quickly dispatched with local competition.  Dunkin Donuts most decidedly took a hit, and you wiped out some of the local weird places like Donut Connetcion and Mister Donut.

Then, you pulled out like an occupying force ordered home.  There’s hardly a trace of Krispy Kreme left in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  I’ve noticed a lot of area locations like Greensburg, Pleasant Hills, and Monroeville are now Chick-fil-A restaurants, and a still-empty Krispy Kreme building sits as a shell of sadness in Robinson Township.  I remember the “remodeling / be back soon” sign hung for years before someone just gave up.  I mean, I absolutely love all the full service Chick-fil-A locations, but I also like hot fresh donuts every once in a while.  You used to be in several Sheetz locations, but now I think they mostly receive their donuts from somewhere else.  Plus, they’re not exactly hot n’ fresh there.

Remaining on your email list has become simply receiving an occasional taunt for something I can’t have.  Perhaps I should unsubscribe?

Dunkin Donuts seems to be making a rebound, and I must confess that I find their Boston cream (Boston creme?) offering to be a much fuller, larger, and more satisfying confectionery treat.  But, they don’t lure me in with a hot fresh free delicious donut, and I can’t watch them being made.  (Is it doughnut, or donut?) There’s also a killer “mom n’ pop” donut shop that’s a bit of a hike for me, but worth the trip… Big Daddy’s Donuts.

The truth is… I miss you, Krispy Kreme.  Do you have plans to come back to the area with hot fresh goodness?  Are you going to make me drive all the way to Washington county to get a doughnut & take a chance on the hot light being on?  Why did all of the area locations shut down?  Were you muscled out by local donut barons?  Did too many yinzers line up for free doughnuts and not actually buy anything?  Did Sheetz want too much too soon?  Did people go on diets or realize that too many donuts are a bad thing?  Was you plan all along to wipe out local donut shops and leave the area starved of donuts because of the high geographical rate of diabetes, thus ensuring better health for the population of the Pittsburgh area?  I need (and feel that I deserve) some answers, my friends.  What happened?  Please don’t brush me off with the standard, “it’s not you, it’s us.”  I need some concrete reasons.

Thank you for your time, I hope you’re doing well.  I’m sure you’re as hot n’ fresh as always… just not for me.

Hungrily Yours,
-Waldo Lunar

Well, there it is.  And here are more that I have thought of since…

  • Why do you spell Krispy Kreme with K’s?  Why not Crispy Creme or even Crispy Cream?
  • What’s the difference between Cream and Creme?
  • Why don’t you call a Boston Cream doughnut Boston Creme?  Why is it Custard-filled?  Is the Custard just pudding?
  • Is it “donut” or “doughnut”?
  • Why spell “doughnut” in long form, yet blatantly disregard spelling in Krispy Kreme?
  • What’s your favorite doughnut?

Thank you once again for your time & assistance in satisfying my inquisitive nature.

Aloha,
-Waldo Lunar

Here’s what they sent back…

From: <krispykreme@casupport.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 15, 2012
Subject: Case #1099627
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Lunar,

Thank you for your email regarding your questions about Krispy Kreme. We appreciate the opportunity to assist you. I have provided the answers to the questions that you have asked, I hope you find this information helpful.

– Why do you spell Krispy Kreme with K’s?  Why not Crispy Creme or even Crispy Cream? Krispy Kreme is spelled with the K’s simply to be different and stand out.

   – What’s the difference between Cream and Creme? There is no difference between the two words, “cream” is the American pronunciation and “crème” is the French pronunciation.

   – Why don’t you call a Boston Cream doughnut Boston Creme?  Why is it Custard-filled?  Is the Custard just pudding? It’s just the spelling we used for that doughnut. It can be filled with chocolate frosting, creamy vanilla, or custard filling. The custard filling is the same as the Bavarian crème filled, it’s just a different name.

   – Is it “donut” or “doughnut”? Either way is fine, “donut” is just the shortened form of “doughnut”.

   – Why spell “doughnut” in long form, yet blatantly disregard spelling in Krispy Kreme? Again, you can spell “doughnut” either way you would like. We just choose to spell it the old-fashioned way.

   – What’s your favorite doughnut? My favorite is the Original Glazed doughnut.

Pertaining to the inquiry of the 2005 article that you have provided us, we have no privy to this information here at Krispy Kreme Customer experience. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause you.

Best regards,

Lyndon Palmer
Krispy Kreme Customer Experience
www.krispykreme.com

Insanity.  Absolute insanity.  But, they did answer all of my questions.  Well, all of the new ones anyway.  They artfully dodged the highlighted paragraph o’ questions for a second time.  Should I send a follow-up?  Maybe I will drive to Washington to get a doughnut one of these days.

English: Krispy Kreme delivery truck.

Unless I can get them to deliver...

Downfall from Do(ugh)nut Domination


I’ve been getting emails from Krispy Kreme reminding me to come buy & eat some doughnuts.  The only problem is that there aren’t any Krispy Kremes around where I can go buy said doughnuts.  Much like Quiznos, they seem to have parted ways with our area.  I decided to write to them and see what happened.

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012
Subject: So, what happened?
To: JBryant@krispykreme.com; hotlight@krispykreme.com; contact@krispykreme.com; lwatson@krispykreme.com; webmaster@krispykreme.com; jmorgan@krispykreme.com; friends@krispykreme.com; krispykreme@casupport.com

Greetings Doughnut Despots,

I’m writing to ask you what happened.  Occasionally I get an email reminding me to visit a Krispy Kreme, and I think to myself “yeah, that’s a good idea.”  Sadly, there are no Krispy Kremes around any more.  I remember the stir of excitement when you first came to the area many years ago.  I believe it was even a news story… “Pittsburgh is getting Krispy Kreme!”  The fervor for hot fresh donuts was palpable.  The neon sign beckoning me in for a visit worked on several occasions when I wasn’t even craving donuts.  I’d generally come in to buy a Boston cream donut & an iced tea or chocolate milk… all because of that glowing invitation.  I always loved the retro decor, the smell, and the ability to see the magical doughnut making process.  You quickly dispatched with local competition.  Dunkin Donuts most decidedly took a hit, and you wiped out some of the local weird places like Donut Connetcion and Mister Donut.

Then, you pulled out like an occupying force ordered home.  There’s hardly a trace of Krispy Kreme left in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  I’ve noticed a lot of area locations like Greensburg, Pleasant Hills, and Monroeville are now Chick-fil-A restaurants, and a still-empty Krispy Kreme building sits as a shell of sadness in Robinson Township.  I remember the “remodeling / be back soon” sign hung for years before someone just gave up.  I mean, I absolutely love all the full service Chick-fil-A locations, but I also like hot fresh donuts every once in a while.  You used to be in several Sheetz locations, but now I think they mostly receive their donuts from somewhere else.  Plus, they’re not exactly hot n’ fresh there.

Remaining on your email list has become simply receiving an occasional taunt for something I can’t have.  Perhaps I should unsubscribe?

Dunkin Donuts seems to be making a rebound, and I must confess that I find their Boston cream (Boston creme?) offering to be a much fuller, larger, and more satisfying confectionery treat.  But, they don’t lure me in with a hot fresh free delicious donut, and I can’t watch them being made.  (Is it doughnut, or donut?)  There’s also a killer “mom n’ pop” donut shop that’s a bit of a hike for me, but worth the trip… Big Daddy’s Donuts.

The truth is… I miss you, Krispy Kreme.  Do you have plans to come back to the area with hot fresh goodness?  Are you going to make me drive all the way to Washington county to get a doughnut & take a chance on the hot light being on?  Why did all of the area locations shut down?  Were you muscled out by local donut barons?  Did too many yinzers line up for free doughnuts and not actually buy anything?  Did Sheetz want too much too soon?  Did people go on diets or realize that too many donuts are a bad thing?  Was you plan all along to wipe out local donut shops and leave the area starved of donuts because of the high geographical rate of diabetes, thus ensuring better health for the population of the Pittsburgh area?  I need (and feel that I deserve) some answers, my friends.  What happened?  Please don’t brush me off with the standard, “it’s not you, it’s us.”  I need some concrete reasons.

Thank you for your time, I hope you’re doing well.  I’m sure you’re as hot n’ fresh as always… just not for me.

Hungrily Yours,
-Waldo Lunar

I also had a Twitter exchange of sorts, but it was all DM’s on their end…

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169099779022921729

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169100223275208704

They said:

@krispykreme | Please send us your email address and we’ll contact you.

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169127252334878722

They said:

@krispykreme | Thanks again for passing along your email address. You can also email us hotlight@krispykreme.com.

Then I DM’ed

@W_a_L_D | Thank you! Rock n’ roll! Looking forward to a reply.

And tweeted…

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169135815472070656

Heh.

Eventually, I received an emailed reply…

From: <krispykreme@casupport.com>
Date: Mon, Feb 13, 2012
Subject: Case #1099627
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Lunar,

Thank you for your email regarding wanting a Krispy Kreme in the southwestern Pennsylvania area. We appreciate the opportunity to assist you. We, here at Krispy Kreme, always love to hear from our customers and it is great to hear that you enjoy our products!  We would like to take this time to thank you for taking the time to share your comments.

There are many reasons why stores close. Generally speaking, the franchisee decides to pursue other business ventures. We have shared your concerns and requests with our operations department for review.

Please be assured that we are working hard to open new stores and continue expanding throughout the United States and Canada. For your convenience, new store locations and details are also available on our website at www.KrispyKreme.com.  The site is regularly updated with information as soon as it becomes available.

Best regards,
Lyndon Palmer
Krispy Kreme Customer Experience
www.krispykreme.com

Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.

Doughnuts or Donuts?

I’m still left wondering if “Donut” is a bastardization, like “Late Nite” instead of “Late Night” or “Drive-Thru” instead of “Drive-Through.  If so, why spell doughnut correctly while blatantly (and borderline offensively) misspelling Crispy and Cream with K’s?  (I mean, add one more K in there…)  While we’re at it, is it Creme or Cream?  Are they the same, or different things?  And, isn’t the filling just pudding or is it custard? 

They declined to comment on the wiping out & eventual rebound of their spelling-handicapped competition.  Perhaps a classy move.  Dunkin’ Donuts never replied to that tweet, either.

HOT NOW

You know you want some doughnuts. Come get them. Eat the free one, then buy some more. It's hot, well... warm, and fresh... and you can see some being made. Man, you're hungry for doughnuts.

I don’t believe that Franchisees simply chose to “pursue other business ventures.”  You don’t quit if you’re making money.  You don’t all dry up if there is demand for your product and you’re selling it at a reasonable price.  I find it funny (odd funny not “ha ha” funny) that a lot of the old Krispy Kreme buildings became Chick-fil-A’s.

In fact, I’m not sure if they answered any of my questions directly.  Should I perhaps write back?

Also, tell me in the comments where you get your donuts!  Am I missing some great local shops?  Who has the best donuts?  What’s your favorite donut?  Is it “donut” or “doughnut”?  Let’s talk all things do(ugh)nuts in the comments!

McMummy Meal


Heard about this on the radio, saw the link to this article on Yahoo! this morning.  Creepy:

McDonald’s Happy Meal resists decomposition for six months

 

Day 180 | Davies Happy Meal Project | October 7, 2010

Day 180

 

Not that this is really all that surprising or life-changing… just makes you pause to think about the absurdity of it all.

From an art perspective, this is very fun & funny.  From an experimental perspective, this needs a little more control.  I’d like to see the meal left to sit still in between photographs, and perhaps even from a camera that sits on a tripod in the same spot every time.

I’d also like to see meals from other chains like Burger King, Wendy’s, Steak N’ Shake, as well as a home-made patty cooked from fresh ground beef… and even a store-bought pre-made hamburger patty.  Hell, why not even throw a Morning Star Farms or Boca veggie patty in there too?

You can follow the project directly on Flickr here:  Davies McDonalds Happy Meal Project

I find the comments from Theresa Riley at McDonald’s to be the most absurd part.  “Completely unsubstantiated?”  Have you seen the photos?

Also, Dr. Michael Doyle going on record saying “no hamburger would look like this after one year unless it was tampered with or held frozen” is kind of goofy.  Has he done this experiment?  Does he know for sure?

I do have to say that environment has a lot to do with it.  The fate of the burger & fries may be markedly different in an apartment in Florida vs. one in Alaska or Arizona… and then is there heat, A/C, or other environmental control going on in that apartment?

I’d love to see this as a Mythbusters episode.